There is an African proverb that says ” When a child washes his or her hands clean, he or she dines with the elders”. Similarly, it is commonly quoted by scripture scholars that a man’s talent will make him stand before kings and not mean men. Indeed, most well meaning Deltans especially those who live in Delta central senatorial district, know Stella Okotete for her selfless service to our people.
By Ovie Edomi
An headmistress who just retired in Delta State told this Reporter/Writer under anonymity that she has known Stella Okotete from her days in secondary school. According to her ” She would pass by without any flabonyance or pride. She is very polite, very hard-working and intelligent. Even when she graduated from Benson Idahosa University where she studied International Studies and Diplomacy, and later got the Nigerian Export-Import Bank job, those who went to her, said she brought succor to them. Furthermore, the former headmistress discribed Stella Okotete as a woman with a meek heart and of a humble and sound background.
Before she got the NEXIM appointment in 2017, those close to her told this Reporter that Stella Okotete delights in helping the needy and rendering service to her country. One of those who spoke to the Reporter is a Chieftain of the oppositiy party at the national level. According to him, “when she was appointed Executive Director, Nigerian Export-Import Bank by immediate past the president, her sterling qualities were brought to bear. From a balance sheet of N67 billion in 2017, she drove the bank as the head of the business directorate, creating quality risk assets and grew the bank to N256 billion in 2022. This is a record breaking performance for a bank that was recording loses for three years until she came on board”.
Today the bank stands tall among other export banks globally and her contributions to growing the nation’s exports and import promotion policies in addition to growing the non-oil exports and business fortunes of NEXIM are key focus of this administration against the background of a dwindling oil reserves and global move away from foisting fuel to other form of sustainable energy.
Interestingly too, at the last general elections, Stella Okotete was everywhere at the Delta central Senatorial district where she comes from, mobilizing young adults, men and women. She did not only fill a void, she operated like a field Marshall, though she was then a national women leader of the ruling party. To say that she was like a silhouette in the horizon is stating the obvious. Hardly could the ruling party in Delta State stop the wheezing sound of her waves that actually obliterated the voices of those contesting for state and national elections in Delta central Senatorial district as she made sure that her party, the APC, won in her Ughelli/ Udu federal constituency as well as in the Senate. Besides, the person she supported won the House of Assembly in her ward and many other of her mentees won elections across Delta State and beyond. The saying in political circles in Delta State especially in Delta central Senatorial district is that Stella Okotete made greater political in-road and got Roses than many old politicians in Delta State. Even then, she is one woman who has helped women shape their visibilities in Delta State and indeed nationwide.
While moving the motion at the Ministerial screening excercise, Senator Ede Dafinone, a Senator representing Delta central Senatorial district noted that he had the opportunity of working with Stella Okotete during her one year stay as Non- Executive Director with NEXIM adding that the nominee was the engine room of the International reputable bank. The Senator further noted that ” She was able to grow the balance sheet of the bank”. Also, the Senator added, ” As a young woman, she favoured the young and women in her policies at the bank aside the policies she has done at home, encouraging young people in various departments and empowerment programmes.
Regrettably, such a stand out figure and political asset with impressive background is what some detractors do not want to represent the women because they never in their slightest estimations, thought she would grow from being a career woman to becoming a political juggernaut.
While well meaning Deltans look forward to the Senate clearing her, it must be noted that the cynicism resulting to mudslinging and misinformation about Stella Okotete in the public domain should not be encouraged especially when one recalls how she brought her intellectual prowess to bear and helped her party, the ruling APC to win in various states of the federation for her mentees as well as coming home to help remove the anthills in the Delta Savannah. How else can one reward her for her political sagacity?Time will tell.
Dr. Edomi, is the Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief of South South International magazine, former President, League of Maritime Editors and former Publicity Secretary of Association of Communication Scholars and Professional of Nigeria